Columbia Falls teens win top prizes in statewide art contest

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COLUMBIA FALLS – “It’s kind of heartbreaking to hear about it because wildfires destroy so much of the environment,” said Madysen Martin, a freshman at Columbia Falls High School and winner of the 1st place of the Keep Montana Green art contest.

And that grief turned into art, an award-winning art for the students of Columbia Falls.

The teens won the statewide Keep Montana Green Art Contest prizes with the overall first prize and top three spots in the senior division.

Keep Montana Green

“It’s really important to be aware of fire prevention because it’s like something that happens every year with wildfires. And that’s always, there’s always something you can do to help prevent that,” said Mackenzie Nelson, first place winner from Columbia Falls High School and the KMG Senior Division.

Madysen Martin took first place with over 600 entries across the state.

“I didn’t know how to definitely feel excitement and then there was like joy,” Martin said.

Most of Madysen’s paintings are inspired by the wildlife and beauty of Montana.

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Keep Montana Green

“Just knowing that I could pull out something that would stop the fires from ruining some of Montana’s beauty, it really meant a lot just because I really appreciate Montana and all of the beauty that it contains. So, just being able to express that in my artwork was so exciting, so much fun,” Martin said.

Columbia Falls visual arts teacher Kate Daniels isn’t just using this contest to teach pen and ink and watercolor.

“It’s a great contest to help teach art as a message and how important it is to be able to express yourself visually,” Daniels said.

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Keep Montana Green

And this was particularly evident with Madysen’s work – her creativity was stimulated because she loves the outdoors and is touched when the wilderness is touched.

“I wanted my art to show a representation of animals doing their part when it really should be people doing their part. I wanted to portray like how it doesn’t just affect us people; it affects animals and everything and how it shouldn’t be. They’re almost like their responsibility and it’s their home,” Martin said.

The contest artwork is transformed into a calendar to display student work and support fire prevention and education. Some of the winners also receive a cash prize.

“These students, in particular, have worked really hard this year in the art department, so it’s nice to see their hard work paying off,” Daniels said.

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